"The growth of understanding follows an ascending spiral rather than a straight line." ~Joanna Field

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MineCraft and Parenting

So today is Wednesday, and there are only three more days until I move back into Residence.
That being true, it seems logical that I would be hopping onto my keyboard to stomp out an excitement filled post about how much school will rock, and how I wish summer weren't over yet, like my keyboard were some kind of hand-pump train car from a cartoon. And while I reserve the right to do so later, right now this post is going to be about MineCraft.

Yup, I finally bought it (or, more truthfully, my Paypal finally caught up with my desires).

And what I wanted to do for a minute here was try and explain why I, and people like me, enjoy MineCraft to the point of squealing.

Being a sandbox game, there is no win condition. Which sounds really stupid to chronic SHUMPers, because without a win condition, how do you know you are done? How can you get satisfaction?
Some people make their own win conditions, like building a 1:1 scale model of the Titanic. Others, like me, are content without a win condition; we are more interested in exploring, trying new things, and building randomly. We don't want a win condition, because that cuts the play-time.
There is no rush to try and finish because there is no finish.
And yeah, you can play, say, Super Mario over and over, even after you have won. Find a few new secrets and such. But the game doesn't change. You get better at it over time, yeah, but the game is the same, the goal is the same.
MineCraft lets you change the goal as often as you can fire neurons. Every world offers different challenges (to a degree). Mods bring this to a greater point of truth.

And I feel the need to make an analogy here. It's a lot like parenting.
Now hear me out.
There is no win condition in parenting. Yeah, yeah, you could say "getting the kid alive to adulthood" or "raising someone who is not a complete dick, or a murderer, or listens to Rebecca Black" or any myriad of things. But the truth is, those aren't win conditions,

The parents whose child died at seven from a car crash or leukemia didn't lose, weren't bad parents. The kid just dies.
And that's because there is no guarantee.
The worst parents in the world; letting their kid smoke, drink, drive ATVs, encourages mullets -- these people can still have a kid who against the odds becomes the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. Likely? Not really. But it could happen.

And the reverse is true. The best parents (whatever that definition is); encouraging reading, school, say no to drugs etc. -- those people can, and do, still raise druggies, drop outs, total dick-wads, and worst of all homosexuals.
Nah, I kid, but the point still stands.

And I guess what I'm saying with all this is that I'd hate the pressure of being a parent because if the kid fucks up, you get blamed for doing 'something' wrong, no matter what you do.

And this does relate to Minecraft, I'm just easily distracted.
Why then, knowing the odds, do people have kids?
Why, knowing their kid is reasonably likely to be a complete asshole, do people continue to procreate?

For the same reasons people play MineCraft.
It's genetically hardwired? Gambling is fun? Who cares if there are more jerks in the world, it's funny?

Okay, no.
It is because people are interested in how things develop over time.
Same reason for plants, pets, stock folders.
I won't say it is a primary reason, but it is in there.

This all made sense as I was typing it, but now it seems a little hard to follow, so I appologise.
Anyway. Sandbox games are interesting to a subset of people who want the ability to control things. You get to see how things grow and mature, but you can control how they grow and mature.
So really I guess I'm saying we players of sandbox games are just control freaks in disguise.


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